It was an up-and-down season for Richard Pitino's Gophers basketball team, filled with thrilling wins, agonizing losses, plenty of bubble talk and maybe even more chatter about the coach's job security.

Wins in two of their final three regular-season games pushed the Gophers into the No. 7 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and two more wins there sealed their second NCAA bid in three years.

Both those things also mean this: By definition of where the Gophers were picked to finish this season, they have overachieved.

Big Ten media members voted on the order of finish for teams in October. Minnesota was picked to finish ninth, so the Gophers topped that by two spots. I dare say a ninth-place pick wasn't accompanied by much confidence the Gophers would reach the NCAA tournament, either.

A little better than expected is a lot better than the alternative.

Read Michael Rand's blog at